NBA Rumors: Lakers Could Sacrifice Austin Reaves To Dump Russell Westbrook To Knicks Next Summer

Russell Westbrook complaining to the referee
Getty | Katelyn Mulcahy

JB Baruelo

In the past months, rumors have been continuously swirling around All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook and his future with the Los Angeles Lakers. The 2022 NBA trade deadline may have passed that Westbrook is still an official member of the Purple and Gold, but most people believe that his days in Los Angeles are already numbered. When the 2021-22 NBA season is officially over, the Lakers are expected to be more aggressive in moving Westbrook and his $47-million salary next season.

Russell Westbrook To New York Knicks

Russell Westbrook high-fives Austin Reaves
Getty | Katelyn Mulcahy

Compared to the 2022 NBA trade deadline, it would be easier for the Lakers to find a trade partner for Westbrook in the 2022 NBA offseason since he will be entering the final year of the five-year, $206 million contract he signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2018. However, the Lakers would still be needing to give up some of their valuable trade assets to convince a team to absorb Westbrook's massive salary. One of the teams that could express interest in trading for Westbrook next summer is the New York Knicks.

Proposed Lakers-Knicks Trade

Russell Westbrook waiting for instruction
Getty | Katelyn Mulcahy

In a recent article, Grant Afseth of NBA Analysis Network came up with a hypothetical blockbuster trade idea that would allow the Lakers to dump Westbrook to the Knicks in the 2022 NBA offseason. In the proposed trade scenario, the Lakers would be sending a trade package that includes Westbrook, Austin Reaves, and a 2027 first-round pick to the Knicks in exchange for Kemba Walker, Alec Burks, Evan Fournier, and Nerlens Noel.

As Afseth noted, the Lakers' 2027 first-round pick will be top-14 protected. If it won't convey in 2027, it would turn into the Lakers' 2028 second-round pick and the Washington Wizards' 2028 second-round pick.

Hypothetical Blockbuster A No-Brainer For Knicks

Russell Westbrook smiling at his teammates
Getty | Katelyn Mulcahy

The proposed blockbuster trade with the Lakers should be a no-brainer for the Knicks. The suggested deal would fulfill the Knicks' dream of acquiring a legitimate superstar while adding a young and promising talent that they could develop in Reaves and a future first-round pick. Westbrook may have been a huge disappointment in Los Angeles, but it doesn't necessarily mean that the same thing would happen when he plays in New York.

Aside from providing them with a possible long-term answer to their major backcourt problem, Westbrook would also give the Knicks a walking triple-double machine. This season, he's averaging 18.3 points, 7.8 rebounds, 7.5 assists, and 1.1 steals while shooting 43.7 percent from the field.

Does The Trade Make Sense For LA Lakers?

Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier celebrating a successful play
Getty | Sarah Stier

With their need to sacrifice Reaves and a future first-round pick, the Lakers would definitely think twice before making the trade. However, the idea of turning Westbrook into four solid veteran role players might intrigue them. Fournier and Burks would give the Lakers two reliable floor spacers who would make it easier for LeBron James and Anthony Davis to penetrate the basket or kick the ball out when they are trapped by the opposing team's defense.

Walker could try filling in the hole that Westbrook would be leaving in the Lakers' backcourt, while Noel would provide them with a defensive-minded backup center to replace incoming free agents Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan in their frontcourt.